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Update web pages.
author Rob Landley <rob@landley.net>
date Sat, 05 Jan 2008 18:09:49 -0600
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<p>The reason for the clarification of section 3 is that
<a href="http://software.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=06/06/23/1728205&tid=150">what the FSF did to Mepis</a> was inexcusable.  (Further discussed
in <a href="http://www.busybox.net/lists/busybox/2006-June/022797.html">this
thread</a>.)</p>

<p>A small Linux distributor named Mepis (more or less a guy in his garage)
partnered with a big linux distributor called Ubuntu (multi-million dollar
company with offices in more than one country).  Mepis put out a press release
quoting Ubuntu's founder about how cool the partnership was, and then Mepis
pointed to Ubuntu's source repository for GPL packages it was using unmodified
Ubuntu versions of.  And the FSF went after them.</p>

<p>As far as we're concerned, Mepis didn't do anything wrong, and the FSF
was a bully.  The FSF was wrong when it tried to make an example out of a
company that was acting in good faith.</p>

<p>To make sure the FSF doesn't pick on anyone else against our wishes, we're
clarifying that if you didn't modify the source code, and the binaries you're
distributing can be entirely regenerated from a public upstream source,
pointing to that upstream source in good faith is good enough for us.  As
long as the upstream source don't doesn't object to the extra bandwidth,
and the correct source code stays available at that location you specify
for the duration of your responsiblity to redistribute source, life is good.</p>

<p>There are a few common sense caveats.  This doesn't mean it's fair for a
Fortune 500 company to point millions of people at somebody's home DSL line
(certainly not without asking first).  And if the source that's available there
is not the complete corresponding source to the binaries you distributed, then
obviously you haven't fulfilled your obligations by pointing to some _other_
source.  (If you modified it, we want the patch, and claiming you didn't
modify it when you actually did would be fraud.)  And if the code stops being
available at that location, you're not off the hook and have to find a new
location or put up your own mirror.</p>

<p>So this is not a "get out of jail free" card: It's still your responsibility
to make the complete corresponding source available.  We're just saying you can
reasonably delegate to something like Sourceforge or ibilbio, and as long as
everyone who wants the source can get it, we're happy.  If the site you point
to objects or goes down, responsibility obviously reverts to you.  But there
are plenty of high-bandwidth places that mirror open source for free these
days: sourceforge, OSL, ISC, ibiblio, archive.org, and so on.</p>

<p>Oh, one last note: if people come to you asking "where's the source"
and your answer doesn't satisfy them, ask yourself "did I identify which
specific version I used, and if I didn't modify it at all did I explicitly
tell them this"?  If you don't identify the source you used in enough detail
for open source developers to reproduce what you did, you haven't complied with
your license obligations yet.  Identifying the specific source you used
is a very important part of the "written offer" bit that often gets
overlooked.</p>

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